I've always heard the advice that good story-telling requires truth, so I won't lie; I'll admit that I want validation that this story-telling-with-words that I've made my life's work isn't just the equivalent of shouting into a void and hoping to hear an echo of my own voice. I want validation that I've reached, even touched, people, in some core way.
Validation, though, demands proof. So it's easy--and yes, human--to equate that validation with sales, high rankings, good reviews. And yes, I want those things. I wanted them yesterday, and I want them today, and I'll want them tomorrow.
But last night, I was a guest at a university class for teachers working on their master's degrees for teaching middle school and high school reading. I was so honored that the class read MY ONE SQUARE INCH OF ALASKA (a second year in a row!) and wrote papers about how my novel might be taught to teen readers. It was certainly complimentary and validating and delightful to hear teachers discussing my work--its theme, character motivations, imagery, and so on.
But then one of the teachers, who'd been quiet throughout, spoke up...